Directed by Randall Miller, Bottle Shock tells the story of the event that put California wines on the map: the 1976 Judgment of Paris, a blind tasting in which California wines unexpectedly prevailed over some of France’s finest vintages The film focuses on Jim Barrett (Bill Pullman), a struggling vintner who gave up his law practice to run a vineyard, cultivating grapes and meticulously bottling Chardonnay with the help of his long-haired, easygoing son Bo (Chris Pine), his young Mexican-American assistant Gustavo (Freddy Rodriguez), and a pretty intern, Sam (Rachael Taylor).
Barrett can scarcely keep the winery afloat until his Chardonnay is chosen to compete in the contest by Steven Spurrier (Alan Rickman), a supercilious British wine expert and merchant in
The story folds with a minor romantic rivalry as Bo and Gustavo compete for the affections of Sam, a father-son conflict between Jim and Bo, who work out their differences with boxing gloves, and some amusing cross-cultural humor between the California growers and “the Brit” Spurrier (“Why don’t I like you?” says Jim, to which Spurrier responds, “Because I’m British and you’re not.”). The beautifully photographed northern
Originally appeared in slightly different form in the Cleveland Scene.